The championship 6-7 year-old team celebrates post game at Culver Middle School.

SANTA MONICA 6-7 STARS MAKE IT A PERFECTO
12-14 FINISH A STRONG THIRD IN CULVER SUMMER LEAGUE

Hats off to the unbeaten league champions from Santa Monica in the 6-7 year old division of the Culver Palms summer youth basketball league. The oldest team was generally considered the best legitimate summer league team (non-travel team variety) and lost only once on the court.

Congrats to all players on a good season and hard work well done, and many thanks to our volunteer coaches, all of those who assisted and the parents, family and friends who supported our teams.

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The only thing that stood in the way of a perfect undefeated season for the 6-7 year old Stars was their strongest competitor, Culver team #2.

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Culver came ready to play, immediately setting double screens to allow their top shooter to get good looks, that almost went in, but jiggled out. Culver was also employing the weave to confuse the Stars, but Santa Monica held tough with their aggressive man-to-man defense to fight through the screens and contest all shots.

Alex Brick had his best game of the year, using his size and abilities to take command of the boards and forcing turnovers, and controlling anything up high and putting the ball off the backboard to score.

Matthew Scholze had an MVP-type performance by making critical steals and taking it to the basket to score points when Culver had cut the lead to 3 points in the 4th quarter.

Kellen McDonough had the task of keeping Culver’s top scorer in check by fighting off multiple screens and forcing turnovers.

Aggressive play from Dominic Drew and Asher Zaczepinski was frustrating the opponents by making them travel or throw the ball out of bounds.

Cassius Taylor and Brandyn Schrobligen were out hustling the other team to grab loose balls and rebounds.

Rowan Booher, Max Baracy, Antonio Rodriguez, and Aayan Lakhani added baskets to help the Stars pull away from a late run by Culver.

Every player that has played for this summer team has shown incredible improvement with their skills, defense, and communication with teammates. It’s been a tremendous joy for the parents and the Culver fans (which are many) to watch this team play and showcase skills that are rarely seen at this age, such as playing man to man defense, dribbling with the off hand, using all sides of the court, and communicating with each other.

Coach Eric McDonough has done an amazing job of getting these kids to enjoy the game even more by having them improve in all aspects of the game. Myself, Brian Brick, and Dominic Taylor who have assisted throughout the season, have learned from Eric on how to improve our coaching as well. Our thanks to him from all of us parents and the players! Submitted by Paul Drew

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As they did last week, the age 10-11 team found themselves in a tight thriller that went down to the end. The game was close from start to finish, as the much larger Culver team faced our much faster boys. Nifty Tewodros and Timosha Moncher hit buckets in the first quarter to put us on the board and our defense had 8 steals in the first quarter to keep the game close. Other than another bucket by Timosha off a steal, we couldn’t find the basket in the second quarter and trailed by 5 at the half.

The third quarter was a wild affair, with Cy Backen and Shiva McIntosh hitting in the top of the third to get us within 1 and the bottom of the third was a shoot-out. After Culver hit a shot, Tyler Strang hit a 3, followed by Culver hitting a 3, Shiva hitting a 3, and then Culver hitting a 2. Cy hit a 2 after Xailoh Hermosillo blocked a Culver shot to start our fast break and when the dust cleared, it was 20-20. 

After Culver took a 3-point lead in the fourth, Timosha had one of his 7 steals under the Culver basket and took it house to get us within 1. Unfortunately, even with our swarming D, Culver would get 2 more buckets in the quarter and SAMO would only manage a Tyler free-throw. Another tight loss, but a well-fought and well-played game to end the summer season.

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Despite losing star center Nicki Reiterer to a last minute illness, the 11-14 Stars finally led a game from start to finish — there was no falling behind & pulling it out at the end. A 23-5 halftime lead turned into a 26-point victory. Unselfish play, extra passes, and better shot selection were the themes of the night. The opponent tried to respond with a mixture of both man-to-man & zone defense, but the Stars’ ball movement was simply too good, no matter what the opponent tried.

Sammy Kohn had an incredible double-double (steals & points) and made three-point shots on three consecutive possessions in the second half to put an exclamation point on both the win and season. Other highlights included Dash Decker’s super smart cutting and passing for multiple baskets, Keegan Fleigner’s scrappy defense & consistent rebounding, Andrew Daouda’s effective rebounding and scoring down low, Ezra Kreiger’s nifty passes, and Kasra Sariri’s typically stellar energy and effort (including a floor scrum in the second half) at both ends.

Preston Calder made a three point shot early and made some nice scrappy defensive plays, Dylan McFarland helped lead his unit with some key passes, steals and a couple of baskets, while Zion Qurtman had a couple of key early buckets & rebounds.

The Stars wrapped up their season with an impressive record of 7-1. More importantly, the team represented the Santa Monica YMCA well, with high class and good sportsmanship. Thanks to all who showed up and supported the team. Submitted by Jim Fleigner

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